Posted in Community, Author: Ashley-Beth Holmes
A cloud of debris half a mile wide spun toward the small town of Hanceville, Alabama, on the morning of April 27, 2011. No one could predict what the day had in store or what this cloud would leave behind.
The Hanceville tornado was one of 178 twisters that swept across the state of Alabama last April, causing 238 deaths and millions of dollars in property damage. Hanceville alone was left with more than five million dollars in damage.
With an oriented strand board mill in Hanceville employing more than a hundred people, LP Building Products was quick to join the recovery effort, pitching in just hours after the storm cleared.
“The city did an exceptional job for a small town with limited resources. They didn’t have the right equipment, but because we at LP had our own equipment capable of pushing trees, we were able to help the city clean up the roads,” said Hanceville Plant Manager Kevin Campbell.
Twenty minutes before the storms hit, Campbell shut down the Hanceville mill to keep the workers safe. In the aftermath of the tornado, he sent groups out to check on employees he hadn’t heard from and contacted the mayor and local rapid responders to find out how the mill could help them. Over the next several days, LP workers teamed up with the city and began removing debris throughout Hanceville while also dealing with damage to their own homes and coping without electricity.
“While the plant was down with no electricity, our people helped the city for about five to seven days,”said Campbell.“Employees came in to the mill and instead of having them work, we had them go help the city and paid them their hourly wage just like they were working for us.”
Three days after the series of tornadoes hit Hanceville, fuel became scarce. All of the local gas stations were closed because they had no power. The mill had generators and started supplying the rapid responders in the city with diesel and gasoline.
“The city tried to reimburse us after, but we said it was the least we could do for the city that we live and work in,” said Campbell. “We happened to have the capacity to help, and it was one of the things we were proud to be able to do.”
Campbell said it was unlike anything he’d ever been through and was pleased with the way the mill responded to the crisis. “I couldn’t be more proud of my employees here and the managers above us who told us to do what we had to do, to take care of the community. It made us all proud to be a part of LP.”
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